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The Geography of Bliss: One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World Paperback – January 5, 2009
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"With one single book, Eric Weiner has flushed Bill Bryson down a proverbial toilet, and I say that lovingly. By turns hilarious and profound, this is the kind of book that could change your life. The relationship between place and contentment is an ineffable one, and Weiner cuts through the fog with a big, powerful light. The Geography of Bliss is no smiley-face emoticon, it's a Winslow Homer."
―Henry Alford, author of Municipal Bondage and Big Kiss
"Part travelogue, part personal-discovery memoir and all sustained delight, this wise, witty ramble reads like Paul Theroux channeling David Sedaris on a particularly good day..... Fresh and beguiling."
"Laugh. Think. Repeat. Repeatedly. If someone told me this book was this good, I wouldn't have believed them."―Po Bronson, author of What Should I Do With My Life?
"Think Don Quixote with a dark sense of humor and a taste for hashish and you begin to grasp Eric Weiner, the modern knight-errant of this mad, sad, wise, and witty quest across four continents. I won't spoil the fun by telling if his mission succeeds, except to say that happiness is reading a book as entertaining as this."―Tony Horwitz, author of Confederates in the Attic
About the Author
Eric Weiner, an award-winning foreign correspondent for NPR and a former reporter for the New York Times, has written stories from more than three dozen countries, including Iraq, Afghanistan, and Indonesia. His commentary has appeared in The New Republic, The International Herald Tribune, and The Los Angeles Times, and he writes the popular "How They Do It" column for Slate. He has lived in New Delhi, Jerusalem and Tokyo.
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The writing style made this especially enjoyable. Travel the world with Eric and find out what happiness means to you.
"Watching Brits shed their inhibitions is like watching elephants mate. You know it happens, it must, but it's noisy, awkward as hell, and you can't help but wonder: Is this something I really need to see?" - from THE GEOGRAPHY OF BLISS
Writing The Innocents Abroad, Mark Twain billed himself as a foreign correspondent. In THE GEOGRAPHY OF BLISS, author Eric Weiner is the foreign correspondent for National Public Radio reporting on what he admits is probably a self-imposed fool's errand, i.e. to find the happiest place on Earth despite possessing what he describes, on page one, as a "gloomy disposition." With that admission, I liked him already.
In ten chapters, Weiner records his search for joyful life in The Netherlands, Switzerland, Bhutan, Qatar, Iceland, Thailand, Great Britain, India, and America. For the sake of contrast, Eric also visits Moldova, where, apparently, everyone is profoundly miserable. And, in case you're wondering, our foreign correspondent does indeed seem to arrive at a consensus of one as to which of those places is the happiest. Perhaps my wife and I, always on the lookout for a retirement venue, should begin looking at the real estate listings.
The obvious question is why the author didn't include Disneyland on his itinerary, the self-styled "Happiest Place on Earth." That would've been an insightful touch with the potential for much humor, I suspect, if not necessarily uncovering overabundant happiness.
Weiner's style is easy-going and gently self-deprecatory. I like that in a travel essayist since a road trip of any length is best not taken too seriously.
There are travel narratives, and then there are travel narratives. I've usually found the best to be those through which runs a topical thread that wouldn't perhaps be cconceptualized by most writers. Attention All Shipping: A Journey Round the Shipping Forecast (Radio 4 Book of the Week),Pagan Holiday: On the Trail of Ancient Roman Tourists, and The Sinner's Grand Tour: A Journey Through the Historical Underbelly of Europe fall into that category. THE GEOGRAPHY OF BLISS is similarly satisfying.